Bahrain continues to enhance its investment ecosystem by implementing four new laws which have been officially issued by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The laws address a range of issues and will have a particularly strong impact on the Kingdom’s economy and its growing startup ecosystem.
The laws come as part of a wider development effort, designed to create new opportunities for investors looking to access the Bahraini market. Government initiatives implemented in recent years have helped spur strong growth in FDI. Bahrain EDB attracted a record BHD305m (US$810m) of investment during the first nine months of the year compared to BHD276m (US$733m) in 2017 as a whole.
The four laws set to be implemented in the coming months are:
- Personal Data Protection Law – Bahrain will introduce a nationwide data protection law, supporting the development of the Kingdom’s digital economy. The law promotes the efficient and secure processing of big data for commercial use and provides guidelines for the effective transfer of data across borders.
- Competition Law – facilitates innovation as well as increasing productivity and efficiency by introducing legislation to prevent the formation of monopolies or the practice of anti-competitive behavior. This will make it easier for new businesses to enter existing markets and compete with significant players.
- Bankruptcy Law – enables experimentation and innovation by businesses and improves the outcomes of the bankruptcy process for all parties. The law introduces reorganisation, whereby a company’s management is allowed to remain in place and continue business operations during the administration of a case, as in the United States’ Chapter 11 law. The Bankruptcy law also includes provisions for Cross-Border Insolvency, and special provisions in relation to the insolvency of small and medium-sized enterprises, which provides a higher threshold of protection to those enterprises.
- Health Insurance Law – promotes an integrated health system for Bahrain, based on a sustainable financing system that supports and attracts investment in both the health care and insurance industries. The Supreme Council of Health has overall responsibility for the rollout of the system and will carry out the necessary activities to regulate the health insurance system. The Government will establish the Health Insurance Fund to assure improved pooling under a new national umbrella and coverage for beneficiaries related to benefits and service provision.
Speaking about the new laws, the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, HE Zayed R. Alzayani, said: “These laws represent a positive and significant step forward to increase and encourage foreign direct investments, and inject further resources into all economic sectors of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The four laws are accompanied by a flexible regulatory framework which ensures their implementation meets the goals and objectives of Bahrain’s Vision 2030, maintains Bahrain’s status as a favorable destination for world-wide investors, and raises the Kingdom’s appeal to international financial and economic institutions.”
Commenting on the new laws, HE Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive, Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “We are very excited to see the impact of these new laws, which will help to enhance the environment in existing industries as well as open new opportunities to investors The future prosperity depends on growth driven by higher productivity and on embracing the new industries that will drive growth in the decades to come.”
Moreover, HE Khalid Al Rumaihi added: “We have seen a very strong period of growth in FDI in Bahrain over the past few years, and the broader programme of regulatory development has been an essential enabler of that. However, we know that to maintain that growth, we need to continue to innovate. Bahrain has a long track record as a regional pioneer, and these new laws underline how important it is for us to maintain that culture of innovation.”